tv CNN Newsroom CNN February 24, 2013 10:00pm-11:00pm EST
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from almost the very beginning after the attack, tiffany hartley seemed to be everywhere telling her story. >> i think it would be difficult for anybody in my situation, and i know, you know, there's been stories out there before, and people question. but i know what i know. i know what i saw. >> reporter: not only interviews with local television stations but networks. on the "today" show. >> how close did these people come to you? can you describe them to me? >> honestly, looking at the barrel of the gun is all i saw. >> reporter: "the cbs morning news." >> we never had that feeling
that something was going to happen that day. >> reporter: but word began to leak out even from mexico that her story was being doubted. >> so she kept on coming this way. >> reporter: the zapata county sheriff, siggy gonzalez was the first american law official to speak with her. >> it seems something made up. seemed like a story out of the comic books. >> it's hard, because -- >> reporter: but tiffany hartley is insistent on telling her version of what happened. here with cnn's anderson cooper. >> you were meeting with mexican investigators for much of the day. did you get the feeling that they believed you or they didn't believe your story? >> no, i do believe that they believe my story. i mean, they -- we had people from the state and then also federal. so everyone has come together to get my statement and that's why it's taken so long. just so everybody has the statement. everybody can't say that they don't have it. >> reporter: and while texas authorities mounted an intensive search for any evidence that could back up her story, tiffany hartley's behavior, detached, showing little emotion, ramped
up gossip and suspicion that somehow she was not telling the truth. >> i think that there has been a lot of suspicions based on some of her behaviors and interviews she did shortly after the murder of her husband, which raised doubt in people's mind. >> reporter: fred burton's firm provides security information for companies worldwide, including information on drug cartels operating along the u.s.-mexican border. >> anybody that's an outsider that goes into that area is viewed as either working for another cartel or a possible informant for a government agency. >> this is the boat ramp. this is the area where she -- where she came to seek help. >> reporter: sheriff siggy gonzalez now trying to investigate a crime in another country was fending off calls from reporters asking if the hartleys themselves were drug runners or if david hartley was
working with the cartel. speculation began to swirl that tiffany hartley killed her husband for insurance money, or even that tiffany hartley was seeing another man. people still have a hard time believing you. does that hurt you? >> some days. other days -- they don't have room to judge. i mean, they don't know me. they don't know my husband. they weren't there that day. so really they have no room to judge me. >> reporter: with television and newspaper attention still at viral levels, authorities in texas were trapped. they could dispatch all the boats and helicopters they wanted, but law enforcement in mexico was still in charge. and what happened next in mexico showed just how difficult getting any answers would be.
one mexican detective did try to find out what happened to david hartley. but his head was severed from his body and his decapitated head delivered to the mexican army here, in a border town. his name, rolando villegas. h his suspects, brothers who lived near the half church in mexico, old guerrero. it's unclear if he went looking for them, but only a few days after he identified the brothers by name, the detective was dead. a clear warning for any law enforcement not to follow in his footsteps. one detective did try. >> we understand that he did try, yes, and -- >> reporter: he was executed. >> i asked if he was perhaps executed because of being involved in drug trafficking or because of this case, and i was told by the source they thought
he was killed because of his involvement in trying to assist in the investigation of the case. >> reporter: a case gone cold. but new evidence is about to emerge from falcon lake. hi. hi. i'm here to pick up some cacti. it should be under stephens. the verizon share everything plan for small business. get a shareable pool of data... got enough joshua trees? ... on up to 25 devices. so you can spend less time... yea, the golden barrels... managing wireless costs and technology and more time driving your business potential. looks like we're going to need to order more agaves... ah! oh! ow! ... and more bandages. that's powerful. shareable data plus unlimited talk and text. now save $50 on a droid razr maxx hd by motorola. [ engine turns over ] [ male announcer ] we created the luxury crossover and kept turning the page, writing the next chapter for the rx and lexus. this is the pursuit of perfection.
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>> reporter: on falcon lake there has been no sign of david hartley's body, his jet ski, anything that could prove his wife's story, that her husband was shot to death by mexican drug smugglers. the heading of one mexican detective trying to solve the crime has dealt the hartleys another blow. you feel right now there's people in mexico maybe even police in mexico who won't say what happened to david. >> uh-huh, i do. >> reporter: because they're afraid. >> yes. if you have threats against your loved one, if you don't know if they're going to come home, i mean, that's a fear that i can't imagine. i don't want to imagine. that's why it's like, this has to stop.
>> reporter: without any clear answers from mexico, the hartleys have turned to intelligence sources north of the border. who can try to explain why the couple was targeted. former intelligence official fred burton has been studying a turf war in mexico between two drug cartels. a former band of military guards called the zetas and the more traditional gulf coast cartel. >> what most people don't realize when you're looking at the border is that there are certain portions that are not controlled by the mexican government. and the area of falcon lake was directly controlled by the zetas, and this was a very strong smuggling corridor for them. >> reporter: so you believe this was mistaken identity? >> clearly, all evidence indicates that this was a case
of mistaken identity based on the tactical intelligence i've seen surrounding the case. >> reporter: the most likely scenario is david and tiffany hartley had wandered into a drug war and were mistaken as the enemy. zapata county sheriff siggy gonzalez believes the hartleys not only wandered into a war but arrived on the mexican side of falcon lake at the exact moment a cartel was about to move a large amount of marijuana. up on a bluff, the spotters, his sources told him, caught the first glimpse of a possible glitch in the drug deal. >> that area is an area that's notorious for crossing or storing of thousands of pounds of marijuana. we've known that for a long time. that information i have relayed to federal officials. you know, local, state officials. we're all aware that that area is used as an area that they hide tons of marijuana in. >> reporter: so based on your
sources and your intelligence, when they began to encroach on what would be a drug deal, they were looked upon as potentially -- >> as threats. yes. as threats. and that's why they were given instructions to go ahead and shoot at them. >> reporter: the sheriff now tells cnn that eyewitnesses have come forward to him. witnesses he says who claim to know what happened here that day. they describe a military-style attack. three boats, several shooters, and hundreds of rounds being fired at two jet skiers. >> the shot that killed david hartley was an unlucky shot. >> reporter: the sheriff now believes the killers were instructed to kill tiffany hartley, too. what happens next, he says, is a scenario he has put together from three witnesses on the mexican side of the lake. one source in mexico and at least one witness who told cnn that he saw a high speed chase on the u.s. side.
a boat chasing a girl on a jet ski. it is clear that one of sheriff gonzalez' sources was involved in the attack itself. >> so given instructions to shoot to kill her also, but she was able to escape. they also say, she was able to get away from us, and we kept shooting at her to this her but she kept zigzagging and we were not able to hit her. she says she was zigzagging being chased by the boat into the united states, and the, of course, there's a witness that corroborates that, also. >> reporter: the eyewitness who was standing here at the time is still too scared to show his face on camera, but is telling cnn now that he did witness not only tiffany hartley on her jet ski, but the boat chasing her right there as they came into this inlet in american waters chasing tiffany hartley almost up until the time she came ashore. >> it's too many people involved for it to be a conspiracy she'd
be paying people off. >> reporter: the sheriff believes tiffany's story and his sources and witnesses confirm it. you don't believe the hartleys were involved in drugs, that there's an insurance scam involved? >> where's the body? >> reporter: you don't believe tiffany hartley herself may have executed her husband. >> i don't think so. >> reporter: and now even more evidence tiffany hartley is telling the truth. a surveillance photo taken that very afternoon, one hour after the attack. >> you notice on the front of the boat, you see the bundles of marijuana there. >> reporter: it shows a small boat, and a group of men, fitting the description given by tiffany hartley, and what gonzalez says is a bail of marijuana in the bottom. it is information mexican authorities have had since the very first day.
sheriff, i've got to ask you, is that possible that mexico is going to find, catch and adjudicate the killers in what is a lawless part of mexico? >> i really cannot answer that, but i can tell you this, based on past record, i think they have somewhat of a zero solvency rate and zero conviction rate. >> reporter: there is one more piece of evidence. a small blood spot on the life jacket tiffany hartley wore the day she says her husband was shot. the blood is from her husband. sheriff gonzalez says a dna test confirms it, but even the dna match remains just one more piece of an unsolved puzzle. there is still no body, no jet ski. is tiffany hartley even telling the truth? or is there another secret yet to be told?
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>> reporter: after all the searching, all the investigation, texas authorities say they could not find the body of david hartley. >> where is the body? >> the body was disposed of. there is no body. >> this is the international boundary. >> yeah. >> reporter: in his office in texas, county sheriff siggy gonzalez knows for a fact that david hartley will never be returned to the united states for burial. do you know how? >> yes. four different sources with different agencies have come forward and told us how they disposed of the body. >> reporter: those sources say the body of david hartley was placed in a barrel and burned.
in colorado where she now lives, tiffany hartley refuses to believe her husband's body will never be returned. >> it's passed my mind, but i'm not willing to accept it in my heart. i know my god and he's bigger than any one and any thing, and he wants justice just as much. >> reporter: the cold reality, however, seems very different. on her website, "bring david home.com" there are plenty of people who still believe she is a suspect. she continues making statements perceived as odd. what she told me, that god was involved in this traffic stop the day david was killed. to help her. tiffany, you just said from that moment i knew god's hand was in our lives that day. >> people probably think that -- well, how? >> reporter: i'm thinking that
right now. >> because i believe he had us being pulled over to prove, because he knew that i would be judged, that i would be questioned that day for what happened. >> reporter: even though dna proved david's blood was on tiffany's life jacket, questions persist. where was the camera they used to take pictures of old guerrero? why wasn't there far more blood evidence? >> the jet ski -- >> the jet ski was destroyed. my understanding, the jet ski was taken apart. the parts that would float were burn and buried afterwards and the parts that would not float were thrown in the lake and, of course, they sunk. this is coming in from mexico. >> reporter: the sheriff believes hartley's story but may never be able to prove it. david hartley's mother can barely control her emotion.
>> what happened to david and tiffany was an act of terror. plain and simple. it was a senseless violence, but it was an act of terror. and that is not going to end at the border. it's over here already. >> reporter: and for tiffany herself, it is even more troubling. >> reporter: do you think your husband is a victim of, in a way, politics? >> i would say a victim of terrorism. politics. and -- the way of life of mexico. and the politics -- i think there's too many connections between u.s. and mexico, too much money going back and forth. >> reporter: connections you mean in a criminal way? >> in a money way. i think it's all money.
>> reporter: in the air over border country, captain stacy holland says the financial stakes are so high for the drug cartels, that money takes precedence over everything else. >> so what the states faced with and the nation really is an aggressive narcotics smuggling ring, cartel, their interest lies in their inventory. that's what they're going to protect. and they're going to do whatever means necessary to protect their inventory. >> reporter: in the case of david hartley, that includes inflicting its own brand of investigation and its own brand of justice. security expert fred burton has followed the case closely. >> it's my understanding that the individuals that were involved with the killing of mr. hartley were in essence picked up and killed by the zetas themselves. >> reporter: the killers were killed? >> correct. the killers were killed by the organization, because, remember, this is bad for business.
>> reporter: if the killers are dead, tiffany hartley may never be able to prove what happened. she knows how many people still don't believe her story. and she and david were just sightseeing, that she tried to save him. that she outran boats with gunmen firing at her, in interviews she remains unemotional. that, too, in the eyes of many has made tiffany hartley suspect. >> people don't see me at night when i go to bed. they don't see me in the mornings when i'm waking up. >> reporter: what would they say? >> every night i miss my husband. and i -- i miss laying next to him and kissing him good night. >> reporter: and for tiffany hartley, those are the kinds of memories that will last.
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here in the midwest, several young girls went missing. some were found murdered. others were never found at all. lori dupies, 20, wisconsin. reyna ricin, 14, from laporte, indiana, wendy felton, 16, from marian, indiana, michelle dewy, 20, in indianapolis, indiana. all of these cases went unsolved. officials believed only one man knew what happened. >> we knew he was responsible
for several deaths. >> and to get answers, it would take a risky, unusual plan, send a convicted drug dealer undercover into a dangerous prison to befriend an alleged serial killer. >> i'm not a serial killer hunter. i said how am i going to do this? >> at stake, answers. >> wondering where she is, what happened. >> peace for grieving families. >> you want to find her and bring her home and you can't. >> and one man's freedom. >> you don't just turn around and give out candy and say you're free to go. i went through hell and back. early each day, donna riteler greets her daughter trisha. >> i say hello to this picture every morning. i say good morning every morning. i look at that and i can hear
her say, hi, mom. >> trisha was very kind hearted, very smart. >> as a child, says father gary, trisha lit up the room. >> she would sometimes just bound into the room, you know, spread her arms apart, say, ta-da, you know, that type of thing. >> donna and gary brought trisha here to marian, indiana, to attend this small christian college. one spring evening, in 1993, trisha left her dorm room for a walk. on march 29th, around 8:00 at night, trisha riteler came here, to this shopping center. she bought a soda and a magazine and started walking back to campus. but then she disappeared. >> phone call came a little bit after midnight, and the voice on the other side of the phone said, do you know where your daughter is? >> 19-year-old trisha lynn riteler was last seen about 8:00 monday night.
>> reporter: trisha's disappearance rocked the community and devastated her parents. >> whoever is responsible, we l they'll never know what they have taken away from us. >> reporter: her mother made a desperate appeal on the jerry springer show. despite huge media coverage and their call for answers, none never came. >> it is like she just vanished into thin air. >> reporter: trisha was never found. >> young college students node to be aware. >> reporter: kristen zoeller was a junior at iwu when trisha disappeared. >> we were advised to stay in our dorms if you were a girl. >> reporter: but a week after trisha's disappearance, kristen and her roommate heather needed to go to marsh grocery store. you thought you would be safe. you thought it would be fine, a couple of blocks away. >> exactly. not far at all. i can see the campus from marsh. what's going to happen? >> reporter: it was getting dark
by the time they left the shopping center, walking the same route trisha would likely have taken. >> we were maybe halfway up the road when heather turned to me and said, did you happen to notice that brown van? i said, no. >> reporter: then the van passed again, slowly. >> we still weren't alarmed. he came by again. >> reporter: a third time. >> yep. really slow this time. looking at us. the hair on the back of our necks started to stand up. >> reporter: the van pulled right up beside them. how close? show me. >> his wheels were right on the side of the curb and this was me, this was heather, and he leaned over, started to say something and at that point we were both, like, run, just run. >> reporter: the girls called security, describing a two-toned van driven by a man with muttonchop side burns. officers spotted the van and
questioned the driver, a man named larry hall. hall said he had been looking for a friend's address. but the address he gave didn't exist. so officers let hall go. september 20th, 1993, six months after trisha's disappearance, now 15-year-old jessica roach goes missing in georgetown, illinois. investigator gary miller got the call. >> we all knew that we had something really bad here. we had an abduction. >> reporter: jessica's badly decomposed body was found in an indiana corn field weeks later. but then, like trisha's, jessica's case went cold. >> there is a lot of times you wonder whether you'll ever solve it, but you know that you're going to keep going, you're going to check everything out, recheck everything. >> reporter: for over a year, miller scoured local police reports. and then a break.
a vehicle reported in a county nearby, the owner, larry hall. >> he had been involved in stopping some girls, those girls were scared, they ran from him. >> reporter: in the last six months, hall's van was spotted by more than 11 girls, in five different towns close by. including those where jessica lived and where her body was found. now, miller contacted the police in hall's hometown to arrange for an interview. >> he initially said, no, he hadn't been over here. >> reporter: miller had to coax hall to admit being near jessica's house. >> i said would you remember if you stopped and offered girls a ride or asked them to get into your van? he said, well, he stops and talks to everybody. >> reporter: after a few questions, miller took a gamble and put a photo of jessica down in front of hall. >> he immediately flinched.
he turned to his right and put his hand up over his face like he didn't want to see the picture. told me he didn't think he had ever seen that girl. >> reporter: later, a heart breaking mystery -- >> there is so little that we can do to find her. i just want to bring her home. >> reporter: and the dangerous plan to solve it. revolutionizing an industry can be a tough act to follow, but at xerox we've embraced a new role. working behind the scenes to provide companies with services... like helping hr departments manage benefits and pensions for over 11 million employees. reducing document costs by up to 30%... and processing $421 billion dollars in accounts payables each year. helping thousands of companies simplify how work gets done. how's that for an encore? with xerox, you're ready for real business. to help protect your eye health as you age... would you take it? well, there is.
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obtained by cnn, larry hall recounts a tough start. >> i know when i was born my mother told me that i was blue. that i hadn't got enough oxygen to me or something. >> identical twin sons growing up hard. in the hall home there was little money and lots of problems. author hillel levin interviewed larry hall. >> it was a very cluttered household. they were raised with dysfunction. >> reporter: the neighbors say the mother was domineering. the father drank and sometimes turned violent. he worked at the local cemetery. what was it like growing up next to a cemetery? was it creepy? >> no, not at all, not for me. at 12 years of age, larry and i started working at the cemetery. >> reporter: as he grew older, larry had problems fitting in at
school. >> he was always the backward twin. i was the more dominant outgoing twin. he hung out with what my wife and i and a lot of fellow classmates, called "the misfits" or the "stinky" crowd. >> reporter: still, the boys were best friends and as young men gary and larry developed a unusual hobby as civil war re-enactors. >> i met a lot of new friends during that time period. i was able to travel around and meet them at the battlefields and go on tours and stuff. it was a lot of fun. >> reporter: larry was hooked, even growing the mutton chops from his hairline to his jowl. though the re-enactments helped larry make friends he still struggled with women. what was larry like around young women growing up? >> very awkward, quiet, backward. >> reporter: did he ever talk to you about urges he reportedly
says he had urges about women? >> oh, my, gosh. it was absolutely -- it was out of bounds. i had no idea. >> reporter: jimmy keene grew up 135 miles away in kankakee, illinois. he didn't know larry hall and he had no idea that their worlds would some day collide. >> third down and five at the 25 yard line. >> reporter: for jimmy keene, life couldn't have been more different. while hall was an awkward outsider, jimmy keene was a star. especially under the lights on friday nights. >> we would come out here. the lights would be on. the whole stadium would be just
completely full and the crowd would be roaring and it was just a very euphoric, unbelievable high. the friday night games were the biggest rush i've ever had in my life. >> a gifted athlete, he lettered in two sports, studied martial arts and inspired fear in everyone he faced. you like having people terrified of you just a little bit? >> in that kind of sport, sure, you have to. that's why they called me "the assassin." >> reporter: you were the assassin? >> my nickname was "the assassin." the reason is because i put somebody out in every game i ever played. >> reporter: keene wasn't just the hometown hero, he was his father's namesake. >> my dad gentry sat up in the corner. if i made a spectacular play he would give me the -- you did good, son."
>> how often did he sit in the stands. >> every game. he never missed my practices. >> did that mean a lot to you? >> absolutely. >> he was my backbone. >> reporter: keene was as popular as he was athletic. you're a legend? >> no doubt. they had posters of me all over town. everybody knew who i was with my sports ability. so, yeah, i was the most popular guy around. no question, i was voted most popular guy in school. >> reporter: jimmy seemed to have everything. except enough money to keep up with the rich kids at school. and he only saw one way to get it. he started selling drugs at school. and quickly learned, he was good at it. >> you're making decent money you don't think, is this a wrong thing that you're doing. so i kept growing into it and growing into it and by the time i was 20 years old i was sitting on top of an empire. >> by keene's own account, he was pulling in around $1 million
a year. he was addicted. not to the drugs, but the money. >> it's hard to walk away from that kind of money, especially a 20 year old. >> so, he didn't. and that single decision would change the rest of jimmy keene's life. and bring him face-to-face with an alleged serial killer. ♪ but will it stay fabulous 'til 5 o'clock? it will if it's new outlast stay fabulous foundation from covergirl. what makes it so flawless hour after hour? primer, concealer and foundation, all in one. get the longwear that survives the 9 to 5, fabulously. new outlast stay fabulous foundation from easy, breezy, beautiful covergirl. new outlast stay fabulous foundation (music throughout)
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>> by the early '90s, jimmy keene was on top of the world. his booming business afforded him a lavish lifestyle with large homes, souped-up corvettes and an endless supply of women. >> i would have 30 or 40 keg parties with volleyball nets, live bands. we'd have literally a thousand people or more sometimes. these were gigantic, huge parties. >> you were the guy women wanted to be with and guys wanted to be best friends with. >> something like that. >> back then, he owned this 6,000 square foot home. >> right behind that is a golf course. he says he didn't stash the drugs here. >> this is a walk-in closet. >> but there was always a place to hide his fortunes. >> this was a hidden trap door that you could open and when you
open it, you have another hidden closet back in here. you can see my old safe is still here. this was pretty much my ft. knox room. >> for 15 years, keene's empire remained hidden and growing. but as he lived the high life, his father fell on hard times, nearing the brink of financial ruin. >> my dad, to me, was superman. to see him in such a hurt way really killed me. >> so jimmy used his drug fortune to bail his father out. then continued to support him. >> even though it was coming wrong i felt i did something very right to make his world right. >> but the money never seemed to be enough. and keene couldn't stop watching his back. by the fall of 1996, the pressure of life in the fast lane was catching up. >> i had woke up in the middle of the night and i was laying there wide awake and i thought, i'm tired of running like this. i really just want this all to end.
>> and it was all about to end but not the way keene had planned. two weeks later -- >> i heard the front door rattle and i thought it was the wind. it was the end of november. next thing you know, boom, the whole door blew off the hinges and they came flying in a straight file line and guns drawn and black uniforms. move, we'll blow your head off. just move one time. >> for jimmy keene it was over. >> everything stops and goes in slow motion. you don't even feel like it's real. >> keene was ultimately dragged to jail. he pleaded guilty, hoping to minimize his sentence. and at first, federal prosecutor larry beaumont was willing to negotiate. >> initially we tried to what we call "flip" him to see if he would give us other drug dealers at the time. and i think he refused so our reaction was to make sure he gets the maximum penalty. >> beaumont got his way and keene got ten years.
it knocked the life out of him and broke his father's heart. >> any hopes and dreams he had had for me at that point in life were gone. he was crushed. i mean, he was very crushed. >> jimmy couldn't imagine a way out. nor guess that a man he had never met might some day provide him one. november, 1994, wabash, indiana. it had been two weeks since larry hall recoiled from a photo of jessica roach. and investigator gary miller had a gut instinct. >> i really think we're on to something. this guy portrays this weak, timid person but, you know, i don't think he truly is. >> miller thought hall was vicious and as the investigation unfolded, miller also thought he knew how hall abducted jessica roach.
>> when he first seen her, she was riding from toward the house going down this way. >> hall followed and stopped to talk. jessica got scared and backed away. >> that's when he opens the door, grabs her and there's a physical confrontation where he overpowers her. put her in his van and left, probably going up this road right past her house. >> in an interview in the wabash police station, hall surprised investigators by explaining what happened next. i tied her up but i can't remember with what. i took her pants off. hall said he raped her and led her off through the woods. i laid her up against a tree and put a belt around her neck and she stopped breathing. hall said he strangled jessica from behind so he didn't have to
see her face as she died. and that wasn't all. all of the girls looked alike, hall said. i cannot remember all of them. i picked up several girls in other areas but i can't remember which ones i hurt. several girls in other areas. there were more victims than just jessica roach. hall said he'd also been near the campus of indiana wesleyan university where tricia reitler had disappeared. i was over there because i needed to be with somebody. there was a small shopping center. i had a van. hall said he raped and strangled a girl here, too. and then he identified his victim, by pointing to tricia's picture. tricia's disappearance had remained a mystery for 18 months. >> we were just kind of sitting on the sidelines waiting for information to come in. >> with little evidence and
local police insisting on another suspect, tricia's parents, garry and donna still suffered. >> with each thing that came in the urgency was great. and the heartache was great, too. and the anticipation and the hope. >> hall's confession met the reitler's might at least find their daughter. and that gary miller had found the killer of jessica roach. but the next day, hall changed his story. >> as i was talking to him he said, i was just telling you about my dreams. that didn't really happen. he said, it was just my dreams. i said, larry, that's not what you said. you said it happened and you didn't like talking about it because you didn't like the things you had done but you never mentioned it being a dream. >> but he stuck to his new story. larry hall was recanting everything. announcer ] any technology not moving forward is moving backward. [ engine turns over, tires squeal ] and you'll find advanced safety technology
larry hall had confessed to killing jessica roach, tricia reitler and two other women. and then he took it all back, claiming it was just his imagination. >> i did confess to certain policemen that i had dreams that i did things. >> but investigator gary miller had other evidence like the witness who drove by this cornfield the night of jessica's murder. >> that person testified that he was absolutely sure that when he went by here that night there was a van and a guy coming from the corn field to get in his van. >> a search of hall's house and van revealed he had been casing out small college towns and keeping suspicious notes.